The heartful presenter – part 3
In the last 2 articles, RAVI VENKATESAN has talked about the reasons public speakers fail, the 27 Cs of communication that will enable you to become an influential and effective speaker, and has taken a deeper look at body language. In part 3, he explores voice modulation.
Research shows that 38% of your communication is based on voice modulation, independent of the words. There are 5 areas within voice modulation that you may want to specifically improve:
The first requirement of being understood is to be clear. It is easier said than done. Many people tend to speak fast, mumble and not enunciate. They also do not project their voice. To overcome these issues practice speaking slowly and clearly. Two exercises that help a lot are as follows:
Ask a friend to stand about 6 feet from you. Say to them, “I hope you can understand me clearly.” Ask them to give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down, and then move 6 more feet back. Repeat the exercise with increasing distances. Speakers who project their voice will be heard at 200 to 300 feet. Remember not to shout or yell, but rather increase your volume by filling more air in your lungs, and letting your voice come all the way from the stomach and chest. The more you practice this, the better your voice will project.
To get your enunciation right, practice with a friend. Speak slowly and open your mouth so that your teeth are visible. Then say a few tongue twisters. For example: “High roller, low roller, lower roller,” “Peter Prangle, the prickly pear picker, picked three perfectly prickly pears.” Have your friend confirm that your teeth were visible and that you said every word clearly.
Being crisp is all about making brief sentences with appropriate emphasis. Avoid filler words like “Uh,” “Um,” etc., and emphasize the right words.
Take a small paragraph with a couple of ideas that you want to convey. Say it once with a friend listening to you, or record it on your phone, and play it back. Now repeat it, consciously replacing all filler words like “Uh,” “Um,” etc., with simple pauses. Be uncomfortable, even if your pauses are long. Most speakers pause far less than they should.
Practice taking a sentence and emphasizing one word in it at a time. For example, the sentence, “I am feeling strangely sad today,” will feel completely different, based on which word you emphasize: ‘I’ or ‘am’ or ‘feeling’ or ‘strangely’ or ‘sad’ or ‘today’. Now decide the word you want to emphasize based on the meaning you want to convey, and dial up the emphasis to a point where it sounds dramatic and uncomfortable. Then dial it back down. This way you will become very clear in what you say.
The next three areas come to us from an article by Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh called ‘Principles of Conversation’:
Practice eliminating highs and lows from your voice to make it more controlled, and hence more impactful. This doesn’t mean being monotonous. Tone and pitch are two different things. Unless you are singing, you don’t need your pitch to go above or below a certain level. Keep it in a narrow zone, natural to your voice. This will make your voice more controlled.
Consider situations where you get worked up, feel frustrated or angry. Purposefully work on toning down your voice to show restraint, and express your feelings and reactions in a civil tone. This will have an incredible benefit in allowing you to be assertive without being aggressive. You will find that people listen to you a lot more when you apply this principle. And your anger and frustration will diminish along with the balance in your voice.
To accomplish this practice, think that the ideas you are conveying are touching the hearts of your listeners. You will find that inculcating softness and speaking in a gentle manner, along with this thought, will make your voice charged.
This is a lot to practice and master, but as Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So take that step, and good luck!
Article by RAVI VENKATESAN
August 02, 2017
August 01, 2017
August 01, 2017